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Posted: April 5, 2018

New alert system only for tsunami warnings

RDEK in process of implementing its own mass notification system for regional emergencies

A new wireless alert system announced by the provincial government this week does not apply to local governments at this time and the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK) wants to get the word out so people are aware of the system’s current limitations.

“Emergency Management BC will be utilizing the national Alert Ready program to send messages to wireless phones; however, it’s important for people to understand that these alerts currently only apply to tsunami warnings and are not available for any other purpose or local emergency at this time,” explained RDEK Communications Manager Loree Duczek. “We have long been advocating for a system that will push emergency messages out to mobile devices and are excited about this step, but want to make sure the public is clear about they system’s limitations at this time.”

Part of the RDEK’s concern is that all wireless carriers in B.C. are sending test text messages to wireless customers advising of the new system and stating that customers will receive emergency alerts from the government for possible life-threatening situations.

“While local governments hope to be able to access the system, EMBC has indicated it will be a year or more before the technology is in place to allow this to happen, so we want to stress to residents that they will not be receiving text messages about local emergencies other than tsunami warnings,” added Duczek.

The RDEK is in the process of implementing a mass notification system that would send messages regarding evacuation alerts or orders; however, users will have to sign up for that system once it is in place.

“We have long been advocating for an alert system like the one being introduced by the province this week where critical emergency-related messages can be pushed to any smartphone or device within a defined geographic area,” says Duczek. “We are eager to see the system expanded to include all life-threatening emergencies in BC and be accessible by local governments next year.”

Starting tomorrow, April 6, emergency alerts in British Columbia issued through the national Alert Ready program will be sent to compatible wireless devices, such as smartphones, to ensure more people have the information they need to act quickly in an emergency.

“Accurate and timely information in an emergency situation can save lives and livelihoods, and we need to deploy every tool available to alert people of potential public safety threats,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “As technology improves, we are always looking for new ways to broaden our reach and reduce the time it takes to communicate critical safety information. Wireless alerts will help us achieve both of those objectives.”

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